Sixth annual Climb to Conquer Cancer Saturday, April 26

Published 5:51 pm Monday, March 31, 2014

john cash

Bicycling enthusiasts and non-cyclists alike are invited to participate in their own way, in the sixth annual Climb to Conquer Cancer, to be held in the Tryon-Saluda area on Saturday, April 26.

John Cash, ride organizer and accomplished cyclist, said this year’s fundraising ride is aimed at cyclists, those touched by cancer, those touched by the Gibbs Cancer Center’s Cancer Survivorship program or touched by Green Creek resident Jenna Phipps.

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Beneficiaries of this year’s ride will be Gibbs and the Jenna Phipps Relief Fund.

Of Phipps, Cash said “She’s an amazing young lady. She’s one of my heroes.”

Riders will meet at the Tryon Youth center, on U.S. Rt. 176, west of Tryon. The ride begins at 8 a.m.

From the youth center, cyclists will climb the Saluda Grade, and continue to Holbert Cove Road, just outside Saluda.

From there the ride follows the 21-mile loop of Holbert Cove, Silver Creek and Green River Cove roads, climbing the scenic switchbacks on Green River Cove Road.

Rize Performance Energy will provide a hydration/rest stop at the top of Green River Cove Road.

After completing any of the above loops, riders may return to the youth center, or continue for more of 21-mile loops before cycling back down the grade to the center, where pizza, made and donated by Franklin McKaig, will be available during and after the ride.

Cash plans to ride five 21-mile loops, for a total of about 116 miles (including the round-trip from and back to the youth center), and 11,000 feet of climbing, making it a superb training ride for the annual Assault on Mt. Mitchell.

“Come join me for one or all (loops),” Cash invites riders.

Riding aside, the cause is prime, says Cash, who has lost family members to cancer, emphasizing, “A 116-mile ride with 11,000 feet of climbing pales beside someone fighting cancer.”

Donations to the Gibbs Cancer Center’s Cancer Survivorship Program are tax-deductible under 501(c)(3). Donations made to the Jenna Phipps Relief Fund will help her family offset medical expenses.

Phipps’ mother, Kathy Phipps, said her daughter began battling cancer in June 2012 and underwent surgery at UNC.

When the cancer re-appeared in early 2013, Kathy Phipps moved herself and her children with Jenna to Texas, where Jenna began treatment at the University of Texas M. B. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

That was on the advice of doctors at Gibbs. Referring to Gibbs, Kathy Phipps said, “If they can’t help you, they don’t close the door on you.”

In particular, the elder Phipps praised Dr. Daniel Freid at Gibbs (where Jenna is receiving chemotherapy now.)

Kathy Phipps mentioned that Freid told her that when he wakes up at night, he thinks of Jenna and helping her beat her illness.

Cash recalled that when cycling with Lance Armstrong (also a cancer survivor) in Europe about eight years ago, he (Cash) became sold on joining the fight to raise money to fight cancer.

He said cancer research and advocacy programs have been well-funded, but that survivorship programs have not been.

That’s why this event targets the Gibbs program as one recipient.

Cash said that Stacey Kendall of the Gibbs Survivorship program works with cancer survivors to help them eat better, exercise and help themselves in other ways.

Since 2007, Cash said the rides, which began under a different banner, have raised close to $60,000 to fight cancer and to help survivors live longer, fuller lives.

“Any money they can raise for us, we appreciate,” Kathy Phipps said, who has quit her job in order to help Jenna.

For additional information, contact John Cash at Nature’s Storehouse, 828-859-6356, or

Donations, which can be made before the event, can also be mailed to or dropped off at the store – Nature’s Storehouse, 427 S. Trade Street, Tryon, N.C. 28782.

“This is the most giving community I’ve ever lived in,” Cash said of the Tryon area. “Everybody’s been touched by cancer, directly or indirectly.”